Jack Draper told key to making top 20 as rising British star prepares for Rafa Nadal clash

Jack Draper told key to making top 20 as rising British star prepares for Rafa Nadal clash

Jack Draper has been tipped to break into the top 20 this season as the Brit prepares for his toughest match yet after being drawn to face top seed and defending champion Rafael Nadal in the first round of the Australian Open. Retired pro Tim Henman gave his predictions for the 20-year-old’s season after he rose more than 200 places up the rankings last year.

Draper is one of the most promising young talents in British tennis, and will be well and truly put to the test next week when he faces Nadal in the opening round of the Australian Open after learning his tough fate in the draw on Thursday. The 20-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough season last year when he rose from No 262 to No 41 and earned wins over the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Now through to his second-career ATP semi-final at this week’s Auckland International, Henman discussed the British No 3’s bright future exclusively with Express Sport as he said Draper should first focus on getting seeded at the Majors before backing him to make a top 20 debut. “Yeah I think it’s step by step, he’s still very raw and inexperienced on the back of Covid and his year last year,” the former world No 4 said, speaking ahead of the Australian Open, which is live and exclusive on discovery+ and Eurosport.

“So I’d like to see him top 32, getting seeded in the Slams, and then knocking on the door of the top 20.” Explaining why he thought the Sutton native had what it took to reach the elite group in the rankings, Britain’s recent United Cup captain continued: “I think that is realistic, he’s built that physical robustness, he’s a proper athlete now.

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“He’s on a steep learning curve, he’s come a really long way in a short period of time but it’s step by step. But when you see him – I’ve watched some of his matches in Adelaide – the way he’s playing, the way he’s competing, the way he’s improved there’s a lot of positive signs.”

The 11-time title winner also looked back on the career of another British pro in former world No 11 Kyle Edmund, admitting that it was tough to predict the future. “But then reflect on someone like Kyle, he made semis in Australia, he was top 20 in the world and he gets serious injuries, so you never know what’s around the corner so it’s sort of one day at a time, one match at a time. But I’ve been massively excited by the improvement that Jack has made,” he said.

Watch every match from the Australian Open live and exclusive on discovery+ and Eurosport.

Published at Thu, 12 Jan 2023 18:00:00 +0000